Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review: Venom by K.C. Grant

Book Description:

Samantha Evans is determined to make a name for herself in the cutthroat world of advertising. Newly hired by a prestigious ad agency, she volunteers to work on location in Mexico City as a personal assistant to the beautiful and driven creative director Katrina Edwards. At first the association seems promising. But Ms. Edwards seems preoccupied in a way that makes Samantha increasingly uneasy. In fact, many in the group seem like they are not being completely open about the project, including David Ayala, the mysterious and moody photographer for whose attention the two women find themselves competing. After several strange accidents and numerous appearances by an unknown man, Samantha discovers the truth: not everyone on the team is in Mexico to create a stellar advertising pitch. When her sleuthing leads to her abduction, she is brought to the pyramids of Teotihuacan and comes face-to-face with the venomous evil of the South American crime boss known as The Serpent. Now Samantha must not only fight for her life, but she must also discover if she can trust the man she's come to love.

When I first began reading, I wondered how on earth we were going to go from coffee runs, copy-editing and credit card theft to an abduction in Mexico. I didn’t have to wait long. The author quickly and thoroughly establishes Samantha’s background story complete with perfect parents, challenging roommate, and serious romantic shortcomings. But her sense of determination and love for the Hispanic people she once served on her mission give her strength of character that will immediately endear her to readers.

The most beautiful part of Samantha’s struggle is how she learns to couple her ambitious nature with her spiritual side. Fine. Fine. The guys are pretty hot, too. But the things she learns not only help her to grow in strength and understanding, but help her to avoid more than one perilous scrape during her two week adventure.

The rich descriptions match the beauty of the country the author is describing, depicting her vast knowledge of the both the culture and language. I loved how organically she embeds the Spanish language with its perfect translation, working to bury the reader as deeply into the experience as Samantha herself. It was so beautifully done that I could only bear to put the book down twice: once to sleep and once to write this review. That’s not to say that I didn’t re-read the ending multiple times before finally putting it down. I just couldn’t help myself!

To purchase a copy of Venom for yourself you can visit here. And to get to know more about the author, K.C. Grant, be sure to check out her website here.

Kudos to K.C. for a gorgeous book of mystery and romance!!

Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: RetirementQuest: Make Better Decisions by John Hauserman, CFP

Finances are a part of my everyday life as my husband and I raise a large family with growing needs. Balancing current needs with those of the future can be a tricky balance on the best of days. Many of us who wish to retire will be ill prepared when the day arrives. After weddings,college, and music lessons, how much will be left for us to enjoy?

In RetirementQuest: Make Better Decisions, John Hauserman takes more than 20 years of experience as a financial planner to explain some key components that will help future retirees, like me, to prepare.

  • Where are you getting your financial advice?
  • How do you know your interests are being safeguarded?
  • How do you know that your advisers are competent?
  • How can you know they’re putting your interests first?

The 124 page guide details the various questions, options, and pitfalls retirees will face and the knowledge they will need in order to retire comfortably.

Reviewing RetirementQuest was an eye-opening experience for me, as it painted a much broader picture of the struggling economy outside my own home. From personal savings to the complex world of investments and social security, Hauserman explains in detail how each one works.

Bold-faced statements pose key thoughts that the reader/investor should consider carefully, accompanied by detailed charts illustrating the more complex topics. Topics such as the impact of “safe” versus “risky” investments and the ramifications of leaning too heavily to either side.

Given the serious nature of finances and the usual accompanying stress, I loved the sprinkling of humor he uses throughout and the powerful anecdotes he shares in the later chapters. The car wreck posed an apt analogy of both the fluctuating economy today and our own financial habits if not watched carefully. The personal responsibility mentality of the 1940’s also sheds an interesting light on our current day.

While some of the jargon was beyond my current understanding I found the Adjustments section to be perfectly clear. It spoke towards my future goals, that of my children, and what changes I should make in my spending now to secure my future.

In essence, there is no crystal ball to see what the future holds, but one needs not worry if they are adequately prepared.

To purchase your own copy of RetirementQuest, you can visit Amazon here. To learn more about the author, his book, and the financial services he offers you can visit his website here.


John Hauserman, CFP, is the chief executive officer of Retirement Journey, LLC. He oversees the details of the RetirementQuest planning experience. Baltimore Magazine named John a five-star wealth manager, based on nine criteria, including customer service, integrity, knowledge and expertise, communication, value for fee charged, and overall satisfaction. In 2011, John was named the Baltimore area regional ambassador serving on behalf of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.